I use Freestyle test strips because my OmniPod pump controller doubles as a meter. It’s great because I don’t have a carry yet another device to check my blood sugar. I have an awesome (for the most part) mail-order pharmacy that dutifully ships me 300 test strips a month. I used to test 10 times a day before I had a DexCom, and I still check maybe 5-7 times a day, so it’s not unusual for me to blow through 300 test strips a month (for which my doctor had to write me a special prescription saying I had wildly variable numbers and needed to check that many times instead of what’s actually true which is that I check a lot because I’m in control but WHATEVER, that’s another post entirely).
At any rate, I’ve had one (big) consistant problem with my test strip mail order pharmacy and that is that they often ship me the wrong test strips. The OmniPod is approved for use with the regular Freestyle test strips, which require a code. My pharmacy often sends the Freestyle Lite strips, which do not require a code, and which are not approved for use with the OmniPod. My pharmacy tells me they often make this mistake because 1.) the strips look remarkably the same (check the pic above) and 2.) most people use the Lite strips. Neither of these reasons make me feel any better about getting the wrong strips almost every month, but that’s fine.
Thursday night I arrived home from work and saw the tell-tale box of strips from my pharmacy on the doorstep. I ripped it open and sure enough, Freestyle Lites again. Uggg was all I could think. Now I have to call them in the morning and get these replaced, what a hassle.
Then I remembered something a one of my customers, a local CDE had told me. This CDE heard that the Freestyle Lite test strips aren’t any different from the originals.
“Why the code on the originals then?” I asked.
“No idea,” was the response.
So Thursday night I opened up a box of the strips and did my own super-scientific clinical trial, patient population = 1. And guess what? I got the exact same result on my meter with both strips.
So turns out the folks at my pharmacy were pretty much right the whole time: these appear to be the same strips. Although it makes me nervous to use a strip that’s not approved for use with my meter, it’s hard to argue with the fact that the tests came up identical. I’m going to try a few more blood sugar checks to compare, and see where those end up.
If at the end of the day, they are the same strip, I’ll have to chalk this one up to yet another enigma of the pharmaceutical/device/FDA approval world. Believe me, I work in this industry and I barely understand why things get approved or not approved the way they do. To me, it makes little to no sense.
But if at the end of the day it can save me a phone call to my pharmacy to correct something, I’m all in. One less diabetes hassle for this girl!